The Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument, dedicated in 1889, is unique in Connecticut because it was cast from zinc, a material that was marketed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as “white bronze.”
A dedication on the front (west) face reads, “Dedicated to the memory of those who fought for liberty and saved the Union.” Below the dedication is a poem whose author is not credited on the monument: “Yet loved ones have fallen, and still where they sleep, a sorrowing nation shall silently weep, and spring’s brightest flowers with gratitude strew o’er those who once cherished the red, white and blue.”
The west side also lists the names of 21 residents killed in the war whose remains weren’t returned to Connecticut, and lists the battles of Gettysburg and Antietam.
The south face has a wooden panel that apparently replaces a decorative zinc panel, and lists the battles of Lookout Mountain (Georgia) and Olustee (Florida).
The east face has a panel reading, “Erected by the Stratford Veteran Association and its friends, October 3rd, 1889. The Union must and shall be preserved,” and lists the battles of Chancellorsville and the Wilderness (both in Virginia).
The north face lists the battles of Fredericksburg (Virginia) and Fort Wagner (South Carolina), and features a decorative panel with an eagle, the U.S. shield, flags, a drum and crossed cannon.
The Stratford standard-bearer is uncommon in that the soldier has a sword in his hand. Most other standard-bearer monuments depict the soldier with his hand on a sheathed sword.
Zinc war monuments are very rare, in part because granite and bronze were more fashionable in the late 19th Century. For example, only one zinc regimental monument (honoring the Fourth Ohio Infantry) was allowed at Gettysburg, in part because veterans didn’t like the appearance of white bronze.
Stratford’s monument, like most white bronze cemetery markers, was produced by the Monumental Bronze Company of Bridgeport.
In addition, the material has difficulty supporting its weight when it’s used in large monuments. The Stratford monument has been renovated and reinforced, but remains split at the northwest corner of its base. By sliding a camera into the gap, you can take a photo of an interior structure added in recent years (as well as a large spider web inside the monument).
Near the Civil War monument is Stratford’s Walk of Honor, dedicated in 2005 to honor veterans of World War II and more recent wars. A large archway dedicated to World War II heroes bears the names of 97 residents lost in the conflict.
A Vietnam memorial bears the names of seven residents lost in the conflict. A Korean War monument bears nine names of residents who served, and a separate monument has been dedicated to honor disabled veterans.
A tree northeast of the Soldier’s and Sailors’ monument was planted on October 27, 1958 to mark the 100th anniversary of Theodore Roosevelt’s birth.